8. “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son” (Heb 1:1ff). Generally speaking, Christians are aware of the centrality of the Person of Jesus Christ in the Revelation of God. However, they do not always know the important underlying reasons, nor do they understand in what sense Jesus is at the heart of the Word of God. Consequently, when they read the Bible, they are at a loss in making it a truly Christian reading.
For this reason, Dei Verbum recalls that God willed a totally unexpected event to take place: “For he sent his Son, the Eternal Word, who enlightens all men, so that he might dwell among men and tell them of the innermost being of God (cf. Jn 1:1-18). Jesus Christ, therefore, the Word-Made-Flesh, was sent as ‘a man to men.’ He ‘speaks the words of God’ (Jn 3;34), and completes the work of salvation which his Father gave him to do (cf.Jn 5:36; 17:4).”19 Therefore, in his earthly life and hour of glory, Jesus took upon himself and fulfilled the entire purpose, meaning, history and plan of the Word of God. Thus, St. Irenaeus maintains: “Christ brought us all that could possibly be new, by bringing himself.”20
Pastorally speaking, this truth requires an understanding on how to gather, in an analogous way, the various meanings of the Word of God in the faith of the Church, as seen in the Bible. In the Scriptures, Jesus Christ is shown to be the Eternal Word of God, which shines forth in creation, is given a historical character in the message of the prophets, is fully manifested in the Person of Jesus, is echoed in the voice of the apostles and is proclaimed in the Church today. In a general sense, the Word of God is Christ-the-Word, who, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is the key to all interpretation. “The Word of God, who was in the beginning with God, is not, in his fullness, much talk or a multiplicity of words; but a single Word, which embraces a great number of ideas (theoremata), each of which is a part of the Word in its entirety... and if Christ refers us to the Scriptures in testifying to himself, it is not to one book that he sends us to the exclusion of another, but to all, because all speak of him.”21 Thus, continuity can be seen in diversity.
The essence of the Church’s proclamation is this richness of the Word. If the Church knows how to understand herself in Jesus Christ, she will feel herself generated and renewed by the Word of God. However, it is also true that the Word of God (which is Jesus) has also to be understood, as he himself said, “according to the Scriptures” (Lk 24:44-49). Christ-the-Word is in the history of the People of God in the Old Testament, which bears witness to him as Messiah; he is present at this historical moment in the Church, who proclaims Christ-the-Word through preaching, meditates on him through the Bible and experiences him through divine friendship. Christ-the Word guides the Church’s life. St. Bernard observes: “In the plan of the Incarnation of the Word, Christ is the centre of all Scripture. The Word of God, already capable of being heard in the Old Testament, became visible in Christ.”22